Deep in the Lusatian Mountains of Northern Bohemia, many historical glass making sites have been discovered. Bohemian glass has been produced since 1250, and is known world-wide for its high craftsmanship, innovative designs and beautiful hand-cut engravings. This unique glassware is one of the most recognized Czech exports and are often purchased by tourists as souvenirs. The area of the Czech Republic currently houses a variety of glass studios and learning institutions.
Part of the intrigue of Bohemian glassware is the use of potash, a type of mined potassium salt, which is then combined with chalk to make the glass much more stable than anything produced in Italy during the 16th century. This helped make Bohemian glass a very desirable item for the wealthy and high society of places like France, Russia, and Austria.
One of the most collectible pieces of glassware, even today, are beautiful and ornate glass perfume bottles. Combining a perfect measure of form and function, these bottles are commonly used specifically for adding a decorative touch to a space, but are also the perfect vessel for storing essential oils and perfumes.
Aside from being beautiful and attractive, many of the glass perfume bottles are actually created with function in mind. The secret beauty behind these perfume bottles is the carefully crafted composition that allow these bottles to contain the scented tinctures safely.
In order to avoid the evaporation of the liquid inside, the glass perfume bottles must be opaque and airtight. The use of colored or faceted glass protects the fragrance inside from sunlight, which can damage the integrity of the perfume. Glass is considered a great material for making bottles because it is non-porous and can be reused.
In modern times, the bottles have taken on a persona of being a decorative art piece as opposed to a functional device. However, these bottles can serve a variety of purposes from centerpiece vases, to storage for small loose items.
Glassmakers like Sanders and Wallace, from Staffordshire, or American artist Carl Radke are modern day examples of the range of shape and style that these bottles can have. Radke specializes in lustre glass, in which silver is added to the raw materials for a unique appeal, while the duo of Sanders and Wallace employ traditional techniques to expertly craft their pieces.
These bottles vary in shape and size, and since glassmaking is a distinct art, each piece can have minor differences that make each one of a kind. While the obvious beauty lies in the appeal of the perfume bottle and what’s inside, the secret that lies in the actual craft of the product is also worth mentioning.
Through distinct precision and skill, and sometimes even a little bit of chemistry (in Radke’s work), these amazingly functional pieces of art are crafted. Each bottle tells a story of its craftsman, evident in each design. From ancient Egypt to modern day vanities, glass perfume bottles continue to brighten shelves across the world.